All Interior Designers Are Created Equal … A Common Mistake! (Guest Article)

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In this article, specialist construction sales and marketing consultancy, Oil The Wheels, takes a look at how Interior Designers participate in the various construction sub-sectors in terms of sourcing products and services and offers suggestions on how manufacturers targeting the profession should approach marketing and promotion.

From complete kitchens and bathrooms to wall coverings, doorknobs, and even electrical switch plates and sockets – the influence of the interior designer on specifying brands and products for use in a range of projects is far reaching.

In partnership with the architects and their design team, interior designers are the taste makers, the ones to engage with – a potential brand advocate.

To be considered a ‘preferred supplier’ is high praise, and a strategy for gaining exposure and securing commissions on future projects – delivering substantial product sales.

‘Well, I’m sold… let’s put a campaign together aimed at interior designers!’

…and this is where it all starts to go so very, very wrong.

Not all interior designers are created equal!

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Much like there are many different types of engineer – mechanical, electrical, civil, chemical, and building service engineers, to name a few – there are also many different types of interior designer.

Some focus on hospitality, workplace, residential, retail, whilst others specialise within education, or marine design.

Within these industry sectors exist a range of specification opportunities for manufacturers, but it’s important to note this customer group likes control of the product evaluation process and dislikes the ‘hard sell’.

Why work with us? – Having clocked up many hours developing marcomms programmes to reach and motivate interior designers, this is a customer group we know well. Here are a few top-level observations I’m happy to share:

Know their area of expertise

Although the field of interior design is an extremely broad brush, interior designers are often specialists in their field – make sure you know what that is!

Professional reputation is everything

Never forget what you’re asking them to put on the line every time they recommend you and your brand and products.

Share their enthusiasm

Interior designers are always looking for inspiration, new ideas, something different they can take and use in their next project – this makes them open to approaches from new suppliers and early adopters of new products.

Be their problem solver

Interior design is a multifaceted discipline, and the best designers rely upon the knowledge and expertise of their suppliers – choose to work with them rather than just sell to them.

Interior designers are very digitally savvy

Using high-powered devices, tablets, and mobile phones to do their job. While they need these devices to design and execute their creations, there is no substitute for seeing and touching products. They value the opportunity to see a product in the flesh to get a true idea of colour, texture, weight, and form. At trade shows and private viewing appointments they capture this with their portable devices as reference for later projects.

Trade shows

A mix between general design shows, such as Decorex, Design London, London Design Fair, and industry sector shows, such as the Independent Hotel Show, SLEEP+EAT, KBB, and Retail Expo – be selective and do each well.

Consumers of both digital and print media

One of the few sectors where print is still as important as digital. Print space costs are high so do your research.

The media is segmented by vertical markets

Hospitality, home and garden, kitchens, bedrooms, and bathrooms (KBB), and commercial offices. A one-size-fits-all approach just won’t be effective and could be very costly.

Social media is key

As avid consumers of visual information, Instagram and Pinterest are major channels, and always use quality photographic images.

Use product samples wisely

They are a key part of product sourcing across the industry and the process of providing these can help build great customer relationships. If you can’t get an appointment to drop off a sample, think direct mail.

Ethical sourcing of products

Now a requirement in more project briefs, so trade shows are also a great place to promote your credentials, and don’t be afraid to highlight areas that you are actively working to improve.

Finally, don’t make the mistake of assuming that interior designers are not interested in the technical features and how products work … 

Having developed a BiiD accredited Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course on smart lighting control, the questions and required detail in the course clearly illustrated that function is just as important as form.

Many manufacturers struggle with this customer group. Need help? – contact us to discuss your next campaign and utilise our understanding of how to reach and motivate your interior design customers.

Interior Designers

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